Sao Paulo: Unlike the old cultural industry, the link to your image symbolic elements produced collaboratively, the new entrepreneurial culture takes advantage of this wealth while collective symbolic capital, which at the end of the process will be reversed in cash. By Passa Palavra

 The culture at the center of the class struggle in Sao Paulo

A panoramic look at the current scenae of the city of São Paulo, and perhaps Brazil, shows us that the topic of culture is gaining ground and importance in the dynamics of social movements. Much of what is now part of the political field, progressive city consists of groups, collectives and other initiatives state, that somehow, that art-culture matters. Undoubtedly, this general impression is due in large part to the flourishing of a countless soirees in various neighborhoods of the city, giving rise to what is called a consecrated peripheral culture. But it is also the result of a long journey embraced by makers of hip-hop, samba, theater, producers and distributors of video, music, communicators and supporters of alternative spaces that enliven a scene in quite a different  manner. This is more or less linked to popular interests.

Also, social movements, small or large, originally arose to work on themes and more traditional needs such as housing, health, transportation or urban violence, have dispensed some attention to the subject. Maybe this does not happen so much because they have all reached the conclusion that this dimension, symbolic, social struggle is actually as important as the struggle for improvement of basic living conditions, unfortunately, inside the left there are still those who think art and culture as a mere reflection of the material conditions and therefore secondary item to be worked on and developed. But is that in the absence of more advanced processes of struggle and effective, culture appears as a good option of refuge, a place to stay united until the situation passes, or as a means of approach, a bait through which to seek to seduce the audience and then wake it up to the issues, but these are really important.

Anyway, either by recognizing the urgency of these demands or by suppressing and by mere the imposition of the situation or the mixture of two things, the fact is that the agenda of culture has been placed on the agenda of the various segments of the left.

Moreover, it must be said that this move also happens to culture as required by the recent transformations of capitalism. The stage reached by the current production system, without deleting the old forms of exploitation, has required increasingly, persons qualified to work with signs, languages, information, creative processes. It is not uncommon, for example, that human resources departments of companies prefer candidates who have experience with theater and rock bands to feature curricula that are square and pragmatic. Hence they have, along with other conveniences, expanded/enriched the city spaces, nuclei, foundations, NGOs and public policy specialist swith art and culture activities targeted especially to the young.

Another dimension of this process can be further verified by the forms of capital that are used to plant their flags as it advances on the urban space. Today, in the city of São Paulo, perhaps the most emblematic case is the project titled Nova Luz, which presents itself as an opportunity to consolidate a large area in the region facing a “cultural activity and entertainment” through the School of Music Tom Jobim, the Sala São Paulo, the installation of the Dance Theatre and other cultural complexes. It is known that the great political operator of this project, Andrea Matarazzo, will always be remembered for having invested when subprefect, measures such as the interruption of programs for public housing in the center, paralysis of self-organized task forces, decentralization of hostels, construction of urban arrangements “antimendigos” and other actions of the real estate capital liking.

Also, for the ruling class, culture has emerged as an indispensable item for its political and economic strategies. All this allows the emergence of vague notions – like “everything is culture,” culturalism versus economism, or that culture itself carries a positive value – which if not critically analyzed just masks irreconcilable political projects that lurk behind the various initiatives. And it is here, within this culturalist wave that the city of Sao Paulo is contaminated today, that the issue of the Fora do Eixo is again a matter of concern on the part of movements, collectives and individuals who put alongside social struggles.

When the debate over the inclusion of Fora do Eixo in social movements in São Paulo came to light in June 2011, one of the problems that arose was how to precisely define its institutional character. We must be clear: despite all the air cool and alternative, Fora do Eixo works with all their precepts of a capitalist enterprise, which aims to achieve income by operating a manual and creative effort of various cultural agents dispersed by city and by digital networks. For the subject that interests us, it matters little whether they live on a yacht or prefer to live in the same house, sleeping in bunks and are sharing shoes.

Much has been said about the process by which capitalism was developing ways to explore the symbolic production and transform the culture in most of its business segments. Throughout the twentieth century, there were many artistic and cultural experiences that even having sprouted as spaces of resistance and denial of political and economic gears, became subject to the rules of those gears. A great example of this were the countercultural movements born in the U.S. and Europe in the 60s and also gained strength in Brazil during the 70s. Despite being driven by feelings of rejection and desire for radical change, mobilizing symbols offenders, the effective power of criticism of this scene was being neutralized as it was assimilated by middlemen operating principles of Cultural Industry, until they reached the condition be just another product, even if alternative market of symbolic goods.

Roughly speaking, this old cultural industry with which we are accustomed to is structured around the copyright protection. That is, the profitability of this business intermediaries – the middlemen famous – is ensured by unique advantage that companies in the industry (record labels, publishers, broadcasters and television) hold over the means of production and commercial exploitation of a given artistic product. So their lobbyists in the legal-political are guided by uncompromising defense of the laws of intellectual property protection, the prohibition of free copying, piracy etc.

It turns out that the development of new information and communication technologies, especially the internet, does much to make these mechanisms exceeded their profitability. After all, with the popularization of this new apparatus, access to the means of artistic and cultural production has expanded significantly, decreasing the dependence of artists and consumers were introduced for major economic groups in the industry. This, on the one hand, eroding the basis of existence of this ancient culture industry, but on the other, gives rise to the emergence of a new entrepreneurial culture that develops own ways of obtaining economic advantages over the independent and collaborative cultural production. Fora do Eixo therefore fits into this new model.

The new business culture is formed by a constellation of agents that are adjusted to the new conditions of our time, enterprises that do not need to seek their source of income that they have the exclusive right on the sale of a CD, a book or a good idea either. In this new model of cultural industries, companies simply “sticking” your image creation process to other groups, collectives, networks and individuals, mixing, combining, mixing their brand to the wealth of knowledge and symbols that are produced by other.

But how did they manage to take economic advantage of this?

Pablo Capilé, the great articulator  of the Fora do Eixo circuit, likes to say thatwhat they do it is a “dispute narrative.” In fact, the first step is to convince partners and volunteers involved that all efforts made in the course of a project does not qualify as work, but activism, militancy, as a manifestation of desires. The new activism, for him, must exchange labor for life. But the very Capilé explains that this change is actually a “reframing.”

For if it were not only a redefinition, how would it be possible to explain that “each one captured real, this movement is able to transform into 100″ – as Capilé said recently? “To Love exists in the SP, the movement has spent $ 20 thousand. If everyone were to do outside, such an event would cost $ 500 000.” We about to see a magic trick?

There is nothing more to prove providential that the multiplication of the loaves in this case is only possible because there is a huge amount of unpaid labor involved. What Capilé demand offset praising the effort of “militancy”. By converting your work life, a large number of agents produced and distributed flyers, posted on the Internet, loaded boxes and offered their services jointly, including the great musicians that punctuated the show, etc.

An objection could be made here: “Why, but there may be operating there since the sum result of this effort was not put on the market, where one or another group could take advantage, nobody paid to consume event. “For therein lies the novelty. Groups such as Fora do Eixo will get their main sources of income from other means, they do not happen there, the moment that the public enjoys the given cultural product, but later.

One of the main ways is certainly the tally sheets. Fora do Eixo is a machine obtaining bids, public and private. Therefore, the collective production of major events or campaigns massive internet for any topic that is, play a special role here: they are demonstrations of the ability of the circuit has to mobilize, coordinate and direct efforts of creative production, which in turn, are able to attract audiences and new looks. What Fora do Eixonegotiates and provides governments and companies with whom agreements and establishing partner is not exactly an artistic product, but precisely this ability to articulate and manage creative work and organize audiences. The greater your advantage in obtaining bids greater demonstration of its capacity to mobilize.

This is how the $20 thousand reais are invested in advance in Existe Amor em SP, to magically get in touch with the commitment almost free of tens or hundreds of hands and brains, they will turn into $500 thousand. (this sentence may not be exactly correct. Please message me with corrections and I will update this section)

Not with a sale of tickets for the show at Roosevelt Square, to stay with this example, Fora do Eixo manages this estimated amount, because even if sold, as is the logic of the traditional market, the company would not reach the collective-the audience you want and it would still contradict the discourse that presents. They use an unpaid labor of “activists” who work in the proposed circuit and sell that capacity for mobilization and coordination of groups, networks and cultural edicts funding for maintaining the operation and expansion of its structure.

To get an idea, in 2012 Fora do Eixo releases (up to the date of this publication) have been used in 122 cultural projects requesting a total of R $25,278,930.96.  More detailed information was sought, but the main site of the collective-company seems to be down for maintenance.

Thus, unlike the old cultural industry, which depended on contracts and legal well-adjusted terms, the link to your image, even if informally, the symbolic elements that are produced collaboratively by agents, the principle independent, the new entrepreneurial culture can enjoy it is this wealth as a kind of collective symbolic capital, which at the end of the process will be reversed into earnings in kind, ie money. More advantageous is the relationship where it appears that the agent intermediary, if Fora do Eixo, little or nothing needs to intervene in the case because, when it comes to creative work, increased productivity is gained greater freedom and autonomy their producers.

In summary, the Fora do Eixo collective and the like, as representatives of this new entrepreneurial culture, are presented as a revamped version of the old explorers of collective symbolic production.

Who are some of these new cultural middlemen in São Paulo?

As we have said, what the Fora do Eixos collective does is negotiate with governments and companies funding their ability to map, coordinate and manage networks, groups, collectives and individuals. Thus, their bargaining power tends to be higher the larger the demonstration of its strength articulator. This is done by bringing people and groups into their structures, i.e. labeling Fora do Eixo initiatives – often unrelated – and calling them their partners.

Since it has several kinds of official and unofficial records (such as NGOs, OSCIP, foundation, social movements, collective culture etc.), The Fora do Eixo collective enjoys considerable flexibility to address various sectors of society and the state – be they capilarizadas more entities, near-based initiatives, or government agencies, linked to capitalist corporations – to agglutinate them all in his umbrella.

As in much of the partnerships it comes to informal relationships, it is difficult to accurately measure the size of the Fora do Eixo circuit Off-Axis. Furthermore, one must consider that to best sell your fish, members of Off-Axis – as good manipulators of language advertising – usually inflate their accomplishments in order to give the impression that everything they do is the pumping time. Anyway, it is possible to distinguish two levels of “partnerships” established by the new expropriators culture.

On the one hand, all those groups are called partners, collectives or individuals who directly or indirectly contribute to the structuring and consolidation of the organization, i.e., groups and individuals who actually produce something of symbolic, cultural, artistic worth: musicians, poets, technicians, designers, or even spontaneous manifestations of social networking. etc. What can happen voluntarily (free) or paid through alternative currencies (semigratuita) is to be used within the circuit.

There, on the other hand, working together with other partners, to whom Fora do Eixo joins as special interests, and that are usually other companies in the business culture. In the case of the organization of events and #AmorSIMRussomanoNÃO and #ExisteAmoremSP, on the eve of the municipal elections, participated in small, medium and large enterprises facing public consumption habits alternative (not sure how to translate the last 5 words appropriately), like Studio SP, Voodoohop Feast, Feast of Santo Forte / Studio Emme, aMatilha Cultural, Leda and The Trip magazine.

 In the statement of one of the partners of the venue Studio SP, Youssef Ale, the venue, Trip magazine itself made the success of the events. It is evident in the way in which collective processes and spontaneous symbolic creation, made possible by partnerships with low-, can be channeled for the benefit of a party:

“To try to do something about it, I met with some journalist friends with the Off-Axis collective. We all went to the Roosevelt Square, where we found producers, artists and patrons of the region. Within hours of beers and confabulations, we came up with the slogan #AmorSIMRussomanoNÃO and we chose pink as a symbol of joy, diversity and transgression we love so much in São Paulo and do not want to lose at all, as without these elements, it would be unbearable to survive the ash of our megalopolis. “

According to Youssef’s statement, what was advertised during the organization as a result of collective efforts, common, appears here as a marketing ploy conceived by a small group of privileged: business and professional agents of cultural alternative.

The class interests become clearer when we learn that, shortly after the events in Roosevelt Square, Youssef has had paint the door of his nightclub with pink, so as to attract the public who gathered on the square, but now in status of mere consumers of a cool environment that they themselves helped to design. That is, the fruit of a collective action, or others, is privately appropriated by a small group of entrepreneurs of alternative culture. After all, who accompanies some social movements in São Paulo, especially with regard to resistance to forms of state repression, knows the symbolism of the rose was not created in this space.

In this regard, a “dispute narrative” advocated by Capilé arises, in fact, as a dispute over a particular market, eyeing the themes in vogue in the broad field of alternative culture. Rhetoric multicuralista and advanced aesthetic fashions are articulated with the goal of gaining a growing market and more financial support for their projects, since, according to the main coordinator of Fora do Eixo, “the young Brazilian is so excited that they are spending does not have. “

Translated by Soha Kneen.


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